Capturing hand-drawn graphics and writing

Hand-drawn graphics can enhance teaching in a number of ways, for example highlighting or annotating text or images, writing equations, sketching diagrams, etc. Many people find drawing by hand much more natural, allowing for greater freedom of expression.


Page menu


Using a camera

The simplest method can be to use a camera to record yourself drawing on a whiteboard, paper, or any other surface.

Any camera capable of recording video will suffice, including a mobile phone or a webcam. There are a wide range of stands, clamps and tripods available which can be used to hold a camera in position while you draw. You can also improvise a stand with everyday objects such as a stack of books, an anglepoise lamp, woodwork clamp and/or a cardboard box.

Clamp

A camera is positioned directly above handwritten work on a desk using a clamp setup.

  • Easy to adjust woodworking clamp used to fix the mobile/camera to the clamp (n.b. post-its are used as a placeholder).
  • Long phone charger used to keep battery topped up.
  • Mic stand is positioned away from the table so the camera doesn't wobble whilst writing. The height is as high as possible to get the widest angle, whilst still being able to see the screen whilst writing.
  • Desk lamp is used to light the paper but is kept out of shot.
  • Black Uniball pens and Berol fineline felt tips are used to make the writing visible.
Box

A modified cardboard box is positioned with a camera pointed down at an exam script

  • The back of the box is left on to stop the light from the window behind reflecting off the page.
  • A hole is cut in the top of the box for the webcam to point through.
  • The webcam used is a standard USB webcam that connects to Kaltura Capture or Blackboard Collaborate.
  • It is filmed in landscape so only the top half is used here as it is a printed question. Plan out the space you will be writing in before starting.
  • Folding the bottom edges underneath the box made it more stable on the desk.
Lamp

A lamp is used to position a phone directly above an exam script

  • The anglepoise lamp allows flexibility of the height needed.
  • The phone is balanced between the two pieces of metal. Blue tack and elastic bands can help keep it secure.
  • As well as holding the phone, the lamp also illuminates the page.
Stack of books

A stack of books propping up a phone, the camera of which is pointed at a piece of paper below

  • Pile of 6 books with the 7th on top perpendicular to the others (you can add or take away books to get the area you want to work on in shot).
  • A weight on the top book helps to keep the phone balanced.

For further advice on recording video at home see our guide on teaching using video.


Using a tablet or graphics tablet

To capture hand-drawn images using a tablet or graphics tablet, you will need to:

The video below summarises the key features of these approaches.







1. Choose an input device

There are three main options available to you:

Using a mouse

Most devices have a drawing program (e.g. Microsoft Paint) in which you can use the mouse to create images and hand writing. Some presentation tools (e.g. Blackboard Collaborate) have a ‘draw’ feature in which you can use the mouse to create images, highlight text, etc.

Using a graphics tablet

A dedicated graphics tablet (aka digitiser or drawing tablet) is a device which plugs into your computer, enabling you to capture hand-drawn images, animations and writing. There are many options available, although WACOM is a leading brand. One example is the “WACOM Intuos CTL-4100K-N 5" Graphics Tablet”, which retails for approximately £70.

Using a stylus and your own tablet

If you already own a tablet or similar device (such as an iPad, Surface or even your phone), you can use it in conjunction with a stylus (or a finger) to capture hand-drawn images.

There is a huge range of styluses ranging from cheap bulk purchases such as the Syolee Tool Stylus Pen (sold in packs of 22 for £6.99) to expensive, pressure sensitive devices such as the Apple Pencil (sold individually for around £100).

Unless you have a Surface or similar device, you will need to connect your tablet to a laptop or desktop. The easiest way to do this is with Duet Display, which turns your tablet into a second monitor for your Mac or PC.

There are also a number of dedicated graphics tablet apps available, such as AstroPad and EasyCanvas for iPad and VirtualTablet for Android devices.


2. Choose drawing software

If you are using your mouse, touch screen (with a stylus or finger) or a dedicated graphics tablet, you will also need a drawing program. The are a number of different programs available for all platforms:

PowerPoint

  • PowerPoint slides can be annotated
  • The annotations will be removed when you go to the next slide and are not stored

Google Jamboard

  • Create ‘Jams’ (online interactive whiteboards)
  • Add images and post-it notes (which you can draw on/annotate)
  • Sketch or write
  • The app version has more features than the browser version (e.g. you can add in material like slides from Google Drive)
  • It can be used collaboratively with your students or in staff meetings

Microsoft Paint

  • Windows comes with a drawing program called Paint
  • There is a browser version available at jspaint.app

Adobe Acrobat

  • PowerPoint presentations, Google Slides or other documents can be converted into PDF form
  • These can then be annotated using the comment function which brings up options for different pen colours, highlighters, typing and stamps`

Architectural, Engineering and Mapping related software e.g. GIS

  • You may need other more specialised software tools that are relevant to your discipline that will integrate with graphics tablets and styli

Other programs

  • There are a number of advanced graphics programs in Adobe Creative Cloud, such as Photoshop and Illustrator

3. Record your screen or share your screen online

When you have chosen an input device and graphics package, you will need to record your screen or share your screen online so that others can see it.

Recording your screen

We recommend using Kaltura Capture to record your screen. Please see our guidance page for more information about Kaltura (including Kaltura Capture).

Sharing your screen online

For formal classroom settings, we recommend using Blackboard Collaborate to share your screen online as it is designed for teaching and has a number of built in tools. 

You can also share your screen in Google Meet. Further information can be found on Google Meet's help pages.


Using resources on campus

Encore Lecture Capture

Most lecture theaters on campus are equipped with the Encore lecture capture system. If the lecture theatre also has a blackboard or white board, graphics can be hand drawn onto it and captured by the Encore system.

The Diamond

There are a range of dedicated media production spaces available in the Diamond. They have a range of audio and video editing and recording capabilities which can be used to record screencasts and voice overs in a controlled environment.

The Creative Media team produce guides for creating audio visual media and run training sessions.


Examples of practice

The following video show examples of how colleagues at the University have used some of the techniques above to support learning in a number of areas.

Engineering Mathematics

Dr Anthony Rossiter has many examples of annotating PowerPoint presentation to teach maths to engineering students.

Please see Anthony's YouTube channel for further examples.

Architecture

Watch this session to gain an insight into an Architecture design tutorial using Google Jamboard and an Apple Pen to review a student's work collaboratively online. 

Maths

This video by Jonathan Potts is an example of capturing a lecture theatre Blackboard using the Encore system.